Eleven days after Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis told Newport, R.I., police that he heard voices speaking to him through the walls of a hotel room, he stopped at a Thai Buddhist temple in Raynham and stayed overnight in the town, a temple official said Thursday.
Eang Tan, a member of the construction committee overseeing a new temple building, said that a monk at the temple, the NMR Meditation Center, told him that Alexis, who spoke Thai very well, walked into the temple on Aug. 18 and asked to stay overnight. The visit was about a month before Alexis killed 12 people in a shooting rampage on Monday in Washington D.C.
Alexis’ request to stay was denied: Only monks are allowed to stay at the temple overnight. Though Mounlak “Connie” Nosaphangthong, a volunteer who cooks for the monks, said in an interview at the temple that anyone can go there to get help when looking for a place to sleep. When the monk asked Alexis why he could not stay at a hotel, he replied that noises would bother him, Tan said in an e-mail. Alexis then asked if he could sleep in his car in the temple parking lot, according to Tan.
Tan said the monk felt bad for Alexis and allowed him to sleep at a former Raynham school that the temple rents from the town.
The next day Alexis came to say thank you and goodbye, Tan said. The monk, “as usual,” would not have asked personal questions, Tan said.
Raynham police are cooperating with the FBI, according to Selectman Joseph Pacheco, chairman of the town’s governing board. He said authorities believe Alexis posed no threat to the public while he was in Raynham.
Raynham Police Chief James Donovan did not respond to request for comment Thursday, and the police department referred calls to the FBI.
Lindsay Godwin, an FBI spokesperson in the Washington field office, said she was aware of reports of Alexis’s stop in Raynham, and that investigators were following up on the information.
The shooting has drawn attention to Alexis’s past, which includes time recently spent in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Alexis, a 34-year-old defense contractor, spent time last month in Rhode Island and told police in Newport that he heard voices speaking to him through the walls of his hotel room and felt a machine sending vibrations into his body.
He also went to a Veterans Affairs hospital in Providence, where he complained of insomnia, the Globe reported Thursday.
His visit to the Providence hospital was on Aug. 23, five days after his visit to the Raynham temple. Five days after that, he visited another Veterans Affairs hospital in Washington to ask for a refill of his sleeping medication.
His mother, Cathleen Alexis, issued a statement, saying, “To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.”